If you wanted a two-seat roadster but didn't want to pay much money. Your only option would be the Mazda MX-5 Miata. It's not a bad option but what if you wanted something a little different from the MX-5. Well your prays have been answered! Mini has a new Roadster which can go toe to toe with the MX-5 in both fun to drive and affordable price, but is it a winning argument?
Performance: There are a familar range of 1.6-liter engines that all Minis offer. The Standard Mini Roadster uses a 1.6-liter non-turbo four-cylinder with 122hp. Cooper S trim uses a turbocharged form with 181hp, while the top of the range JCW gets pumped up to 208hp. Pick of the range is simple and yet the best form of a Mini you can buy the Cooper S. It's quite flexible and simply the most fun to drive and the more sensible choice of the range. The base trim feels a little underpowered while the top of the range is excellent but rather priced a little steeply.
On the road: The Mini Roadster has a rather firm ride, it's not nearly as firm as the Mazda MX-5. At highway speeds the ride surprisingly feels settled, even at low speeds the firm ride is forgiving. The Mini feels sharp and balanced through bends and corners with well weighted steering that has sharp response. With the roof down ther'es a lot of wind buffeting in the cabin. Road and engine noise can be heard at highway speeds. The exhaust emits an appealing pop and bangs.
Behind the wheel: Finding a driving position that suits you best won't be hard to find. The dashboard is a differ story however. It's funky retro design looks good but functionality is poor. Many of the controls feel fiddly to operate and confusing in layout. Rear visibility is very limited with the roof up. It's not as bad in the Mini Coupe. Compared with most two-seat roadsters, the Mini Roadster is very practical. The boot offers a decent size with a pass through for skis.
Equipment: All the roadsters come with the basic specs which includes alloy wheels, air-con and parking sensors. A part-electric roof is also standard as well. For those who wants to customize their Mini to their tastes, there are plenty of customizations to choose from.
Buying & Owning: The Mini Roadster costs about the same as the Mazda MX-5. The Mini Roadster is more fuel-efficient and offers better storage and resale value. The news gets even better when you pick the Mini Cooper S over the Mazda. Not only do you get a more powerful engine, but it's cheaper and more still more efficient.
Quality & Safety: Cabin materials are very iffy in quality. Some areas look down right cheap. Mini does well in reliability and customer satisfaction, but still we question Minis long term reliability. Mini comes with stability control and anti-lock brakes to keep you safe. The brakes are sophisticated and there's plenty of airbags to keep you safe in the event of a crash.
The Mini Roadster is very pratical and sensible option compared to the Mazda MX-5. It's quite fun to drive and offers much value for the money if you stick with the Cooper and Cooper S forms. Howver, the Mini Roadster suffers from a stingy equipment level and isn't as fun to drive as the Coupe form. If you are looking for a two-seat roadster that's practical and affordable the Mini Roadster should be on your list.
Devon's Pick: Mini Roadster Cooper S is the sweet spot of the range. It's not as expensive as the JCW but is just as fast and is more fuel efficient than the JCW.
Likes: Go-kart handling. Surprisingly comfortable despite firm suspension. Very practicla for a roadster also.
Dislike: Dashboard controls are fiddly to operate. Options can send the price soaring. Not as sharp to drive as the Mini Coupe.